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There is so much life-changing work going on in our community - thanks to the committed individuals who comprise our nonprofit sector. However, none of us could do our work without the funders behind the scenes who make it possible.
As we reflect on 2021, another year during which Covid affected everything, it was the commitment of funders who believe in our students, our families and our work together that allowed us to make gains. It is important for our community to know at least some of those stories as we close the year.
Let’s start with El Paso Electric. Historically, El Paso Electric has been the most consistent funder of The Bridge, having invested in us from the very beginning. This year, we asked them to help us build awareness of opportunity through our NewMexicoTrueTalent.org website, as thousands of our neighbors found themselves still unemployed and their careers sidelined because of the virus.
We, as a community, have this website as an amazing resource to help people connect to education and employment in some of the best, highest potential careers in our county. We asked El Paso Electric to fund a campaign to build awareness of this resource for those thousands who were looking for opportunities to enter new careers, find the education and training they needed to upskill or reskill and begin the process of changing their trajectories and getting back to work.
Thanks to a $20,000 grant, usage of the website sky-rocked 700 percent in just two months for those who learned about the site on radio, in the newspaper, on social media or other avenues. It supported us in giving people not just hope for the future, but information they may never have seen before, about the quality and number of careers available in our top industries.
Thanks to a combination of funders (the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, US Bank, Union Pacific, the United Way of Southwestern New Mexico) after only 14 months, we stand alone in the state in understanding career preparedness and opportunities. We are now able to very specifically tell all those who make up our talent development pipeline exactly what skills are needed for success, which credentials and degrees are most sought after by employers and what are the jobs that are hardest to fill.
The Daniels Fund invested $50,000 in The Bridge this year to play a supportive role in building strong Career and Technical Education programs in our county. Thanks to its investment in The Bridge and our partnerships through the Workforce Talent Collaborative, all of our Career and Technical Education teachers in relevant areas were able to connect to this real-time data on what their students need to be successful in future careers. Equipped with this information, our CTE educators are among the most informed in the state! In fact, the team with the Southern Regional Education Board, which supports the CTE programs in Gadsden, were blown away by the detailed information we were able to provide them to help them bring the best of their efforts on programming and professional development to the table for Gadsden’s CTE teachers.
The Daniels Fund also helped us continue to support the students in Santa Teresa High School’s Blended Senior Year pilot, who despite the pandemic, are now demonstrating incredible outcomes for Dual Credit Students. Fully 50 percent of them have earned a college-level skills credential before graduating high school, and 75 percent of them are continuing their education at either Doña Ana Community College or New Mexico State University.
To all of those who have played a role in financial and (never to be forgotten) personal support for The Bridge and its work, it is because of you that we can look back on 2021 with gratitude. Thank you, for your continued support for this one-of-a-kind organization!
Tracey Bryan is president/CEO of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. She can be reached at TraceyBryan@thebridgeofsnm.org